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Day of the 'Disappeared'

After a decline over the past three years, there appears to be a steady increase in the number of 'disappearances' with dozens being reported in the Jammu and Kashmir press so far this year.

Since 1990 it is estimated that up to 1000 people have 'disappeared' after being arrested by police or armed or paramilitary forces in Jammu and Kashmir. The victims include people of all ages and professions; businessmen, lawyers, labourers and teachers. Many of them appear to be ordinary citizens picked up at random, without any connection to the armed struggle.

Few of the hundreds of habeas corpus petitions filed by families of the 'disappeared' before the judiciary in Jammu and Kashmir have been brought to a resolution. The hundreds of cases which Amnesty International has raised with the Government of India continue to remain unresolved.

The organisation is calling on the Government of India to fulfil its obligation under international law to impartially and independently investigate all allegations of 'disappearances' in Jammu and Kashmir. The prevailing climate of impunity allows those responsible for 'disappearances' to avoid judicial consequence and facilitates further violations.

'On this important day, the government should think of the families of the 'disappeared' and immediately investigate the whereabouts of their loved ones,' Amnesty International said.

The fate of hundreds of 'disappeared' in other parts of India, including Punjab, Manipur and Assam, remains unknown and their relatives continue to fight for justice.

Non-governmental organisations across Asia who are involved in the prevention of 'disappearances' and the pursuit of judicial redress for the families of those who have 'disappeared' will be marking the day with events and press conferences.

The Day of the 'Disappeared' was started by the Latin American non-governmental organization FEDEFAM (Federación Latinoamericana de Asociaciones de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos).

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